François Fillon’s comments on race, Jews, and Muslims (official statement)

An official statement from The French Jewish Union for Peace:

“Supporters of Les Républicains have chosen a worrying figure to represent the party as the official candidate for President of the Republic. On November 25, François Fillon declared in a speech that ‘patriotism is the only way to transcend our origins, our races, our religions,’ (he expressed similar sentiments in 2013.)

Thus, we have a candidate for the ‘republican’ right who calmly speaks of “our races” after accusing Muslims, while simultaneously asking them to ‘defeat the fundamentalism within [their communities].’ This is the same candidate who this summer supported the racist and needless campaign against the burkini.

He has also expressed his intentions to foster a sense of equality among citizens by recalling how the Republic required the Church’s submission, ‘and how it was necessary to demand that Jews accept the laws of the Republic.’

When evoking the 1806 Sanhedrin established by Napolean to integrate Jews, he used the same vocabulary of submission and presented the Jews as outlaws and rebels, stating that it was necessary to ‘demand’ that they accept the laws of the Republic.

He also forgets that the principle of equality for Jews was often constructed against the institutions of the Republic, such as the Dreyfus Affair, and that political actors in the III Republic wallowed in anti-Semitic abjection under Vichy rule.

As such, the first official speech given by the Republican presidential candiate is one of division and stigmatization, and reminiscent of the Republic’s colonial history and post-colonial racism.”

The National Bureau of the French Jewish Union for Peace

Marine Le Pen vows to ban ‘all religious symbols’

All religious symbols, including the Jewish skull cap, will be banned if leader of the far-right French party National Front, Marine Le Pen, is elected president next year.

“It is clear that kippahs are not the issue within our country. But for the sake of equality, they should be prohibited,” said Le Pen. “If I requested to ban solely Muslim attire, people would slam me for hating Muslims.”

In an interview with France’s BFMTV station on October 16, Le Pen said she would extend a 2004 law banning religious symbols in schools to all public spaces.

“I know it’s a sacrifice, but I think the situation is too serious these days… I think every French person, including our Jewish compatriots, can understand that if we ask them for a sacrifice in order to help fight against the advance of this Islamic extremism… they will make the effort, they will understand, I am absolutely convinced because it will be in the best interests of the nation,” she explained.

Meanwhile, the French Jewish community has harshly condemned Le Pen’s proposal to ban the kippah, reported the Jerusalem Online.

 

 

Tareq Oubrou’s argument for why Islam belongs in France

Tareq Oubrou is the leader of the Muslim community in a city famous for the earthy red wines that have made this region a household name — and that his followers are forbidden from sampling.

But after three major terrorist attacks in two years and recent controversy over the “burkini” swimsuit, Oubrou has become France’s leading advocate for an Islam that is progressive, inclusive and, most of all, French.

In a series of articles, television interviews and now a popular book, Oubrou has publicly criticized the headscarf, argued for welcoming homosexual Muslims into the faith and equated the essence of Islam with the basic French idea of human emancipation.

For this imam, the two are one and the same — and entirely unrelated to the frequent public debate over what Muslim women wear, either on the street or on the beach.

“I don’t care what people put on their heads,” he said during an interview in his office in Bordeaux’s grand mosque. The room was piled with books from floor to ceiling. “I find that a shameful debate.”

In his recent book, “What You Don’t Know About Islam,” published in February, Oubrou calls for an “Islam of France,” which he defines as “the reconciliation of a spiritual Islam that expresses itself in the language of the Republican values already in place.” Namely, France’s holy triumvirate of liberty, equality and fraternity.

Largely for ideas like these, Oubrou has become a darling of the French political elite. In 2013, he was named a chevalier of the Legion of Honor, the country’s highest award for civil and military merit; in January 2015, he was chosen by the Interior Ministry as a special adviser to the government after the Charlie Hebdo attacks. There are even rumors that he could become a government minister if Bordeaux’s mayor, the popular Alain Juppé, wins the country’s presidential election next year.

But his ideas have also earned Oubrou many detractors, including a number of ordinary French Muslims, who feel that his views often parrot those of the government. After all, the same people who decorated Oubrou with the Legion of Honor ultimately condoned the burkini ban, on the grounds that it was an affront to republican equality.

“It’s coming from a good intention, I think,” Marwan Muhammad, director of the Collective Against Islamophobia in France, said in an interview. “But many see his vision of Islam — that Muslims should be discreet, should be less visible than they are today — as basically validating Islamophobic stereotypes, that basically Muslims should prove their loyalty to the state by assimilating.”

Meanwhile, the Islamic State has issued several fatwas against Oubrou, whom its leaders regularly call the “imam of debauchery.” “He should be killed without hesitation,” insisted Dar al-Islam, its French-language magazine, in its spring issue. Oubrou says he has not lost any sleep over this latest threat — and still refuses the government’s offer of police protection. “If I were afraid, it would be a defeat,” he said.

To Oubrou, France has been since the French Revolution less of a country and more of a concept, committed to human rights and universal equality. And these, he argues, are the same lofty aspirations as those of Islam and any true religion.

“The Muslim faith is in the service of all humanity in general — as is the nation,” he said. “That’s what religion is: how to serve man, how to transform him, to make man as perfect as possible in thought, in sensibility, in spirituality, in relation to the mysteries of God.”

Born in Morocco to Francophone parents in 1959, Oubrou was naturalized as a French citizen in the late 1980s. It was a watershed moment in his life and his development as a thinker. As he put it: “I adopted French nationality, and so I should be loyal, quite simply. I should respect the law, contribute to the economy of this country and its prosperity as much as any other citizen.”

In France, as elsewhere in Europe, there is a long tradition of religions perceived as “foreign” working tirelessly to demonstrate that their teachings are more than compatible with society at large.

Throughout the 19th century, for instance, France’s Jewish leaders, facing constant anti-Semitism, argued that the Hebrew Bible stressed the same values as the nation. They proudly sent their sons and brothers to serve in the French military in World War I.

In the face of rising Islamophobia, Oubrou’s sermons and teachings show a similar patriotic impulse. For instance, he has insisted that the Bordeaux mosque use the French language in addition to Arabic. Children in the mosque’s school learn about Islam in French, as do those enrolled in its seminary.

“Our third and fourth generations dream in French,” Oubrou said. “They should speak to God in French.”

Besides, he says, French citizenship is an identity distinct from other national affiliations: It is a “moral contract,” a commitment to lofty, abstract ideals that make more sense when individuals can connect them with their private faiths.

These days, what primarily interests Oubrou are those who feel excluded from that moral contract, especially the young French and Francophone Muslims who, for a variety of reasons, have been pushed toward radicalization in recent years. In each of France’s recent terrorist attacks, the perpetrators came from this loose demographic, a fact that Oubrou has begun confronting on a local level.

Along with Bordeaux’s City Hall, he has helped create a pilot program for “deradicalizing” young people suspected of showing violent tendencies at an early age. Called the Center of Action and Prevention Against the Radicalization of Individuals (CAPRI), it was formally launched announced in January.

According to Marik Fetouh, the Bordeaux municipal officer for equality and citizenship who oversees the program, CAPRI receives referrals from local authorities about individuals they suspect may be susceptible to radicalization: typically young men in relative social isolation whose social-media profiles suggest an affinity with the Islamic State or the rhetoric of other extremist groups.

Fetouh added that since the announcement of the program, local families — entirely independent of the authorities — have also begun approaching the organization about their children. They feel comfortable doing so, he said, because CAPRI is not meant as incarceration: It is primarily designed as a mental-health initiative, staffed with trained professionals who help troubled youths identify and confront the sources of their anger.

Since it began, Fetouh said, CAPRI has worked with roughly 30 individuals. While a success rate will be difficult to ascertain, the hope is that the program will serve as a humane template for what other communities across France might do as the country confronts the issue collectively. This year, for instance, France’s prime minister, Manuel Valls, announced the establishment of other deradicalization centers, although those will focus on individuals at a later stage.

For Oubrou, a key factor in the fight against radicalization lies in acknowledging the shortcomings of the same nation he has devoted his life to upholding.

“To be honest, radicalization is a symptom of the malaise of the republic. Our notion of equality is never applied on the level of schools or on the level of work. Equality is important between women and men, and everyone must dress the same,” he said, referring to the rationale of those who opposed the burkini. “But not on the level of salary.”

This, in his mind, is the eternal riddle of the French Republic, at times as elusive and equivocal as the religions its staunch secularism nominally opposes. “France is perhaps the most utopian country in the world,” Oubrou said. “But it’s a utopia that’s not achievable.”

AN OPEN LETTER TO AMERICAN MUSLIMS ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

Hey there. It’s two of your brothers. We’re writing to you about the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage in all fifty states. The good news is that a whopping 42% of you support marriage equality, as do both of our Muslim elected officials in the United States Congress. One even serves as vice chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus! There are many faGay Muslimsithful gay and lesbian Muslims in the US and we love and support all of them.

Sharia law for wills

March 23, 2014

 

The Law Society is to issue a practice note to solicitors who may be interested in drafting “Sharia-compliant” wills for their Muslim clients. Some have argued that by issuing the note the law society has opened the doors on the technical issues surrounding gender discrimination inherent in Sharia not only regarding the inheritance provisions, but more importantly endorsing a different set of laws for different groups of people. The idea of equality before the law is being threatened.

In Britain, unless you draw up a will, your estate on death will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy. However, although people can do whatever they want with their assets and a lawyer must follow the client’s instructions; it has been argued that this guidance legitimises discrimination towards women, “illegitimate” and adopted children, and non-Muslim partners or offspring who may be the result of inter-marriage.

The key paragraph states: “The male heirs in most cases receive double the amount inherited by a female heir of the same class. Non-Muslims may not inherit at all, and only Muslim marriages are recognised. Similarly, a divorced spouse is no longer a Sharia heir, as the entitlement depends on a valid Muslim marriage existing at the date of death.”

It adds: “This means you should amend or delete some standard will clauses. For example, you should consider excluding the provisions of s33 of the Wills Act 1837, because these operate to pass a gift to the children of a deceased ‘descendant’. Under Sharia rules, the children of a deceased heir have no entitlement, although they can benefit from the freely disposable third [the third of an estate that can be given to non-heirs or charities].

“Similarly, you should amend clauses which define the term ‘children’ or ‘issue’ to exclude those who are illegitimate or adopted.” It has been argued that the ruling advises solicitors on how to discriminate and avoid equality legislation. But a person has always been able to distribute their assets in any way they choose, and a Muslim may legally have done so according to Sharia principles without letting the lawyer know the basis of the instructions. But the question now is that a solicitor could offer this service and develop a product specifically designed for a Muslim client who wants to distribute their assets according to their religious requirement, which could be considered socially unacceptable. Suppose a client instructed that their assets should not go to a relative because they happened to be of a different race or religion. Would that be acceptable? If one were to accept that people have the right to act in a discriminatory fashion with their assets if they choose to, this guidance encourages solicitors to adopt a separate approach to clients who are deemed “different” – in this case, clients who are Muslim. The guidance also states that “there are specific differences between Sunni and Shia rules on succession.”

The code of conduct for solicitors which all solicitors must abide by says: “As a matter of general law, you must comply with requirements set out in legislation – including the Equality Act 2010 – as well as the conduct duties contained in this chapter.”

 

The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/10717676/Sharia-law-for-wills-and-then-what.html

The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/03/23/sharia-law-enshrined-in-uk-legal-system_n_5016396.html

Interview with Naika Foroutan on Germany’s Islam Conference

February 24, 2014

 

Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière has announced that the German Islam Conference will no longer concern itself with security issues. For sociologist Naika Foroutan of Berlin’s Humboldt University, this is a positive sign. At last, the conference will be able to concentrate on ensuring religious equality for Muslims in Germany.

 

Qantara: http://en.qantara.de/content/interview-with-naika-foroutan-on-germanys-islam-conference-encouraging-developments

Muslims join Paris protest against gender equality drive in schools

February 2, 2014

 

Tens of thousands of supporters of the conservative “Manif pour Tous” movement (Protest for Everyone) gathered in Paris on Sunday February 2nd to protest against gender equality teaching in schools. The “Manif Pour Tous” (MPT) mounted huge protests before legislation was passed in 2013 allowing gay marriages, and its focus now is on medically-assisted procreation for same-sex couples.

Sunday’s march included a prominent Muslim contribution in a protest movement that has so far been overwhelmingly linked to far-right political parties and to conservative Catholic groups.

Many protesters also told FRANCE 24 they were worried about the state’s role in sex education, and the supposed “gender theory” lurking behind an “ABCD of equality” initiative aimed at breaking down gender stereotypes in schools.

The demonstrators claim the move is a deliberate attempt to brainwash children from an early age against what they consider the “natural” differences between men and women, boys and girls.

“The state has no business lecturing children on subjects as private as sexual identity or of imposing adult preoccupations on young children,” said MPT leader Ludivine de la Rochère, voicing a concern shared by many of the Muslim associations that joined Sunday’s march through central Paris.

Among the heads of the various groups was Samir Driss, of the Muslims for Childhood group.

He told FRANCE 24 that increasing numbers of Muslims were joining the MPT movement, despite its Christian and far-right reputation, attracted to its traditional and conservative view of family life.

“Education should be about teaching children skills so that they can get jobs,” he said. “Sex education is not going to get them into work. Sexuality is a subject that I will raise in front of my children when I see fit.”

His words were echoed by Camel Bechikh, who heads the ‘Sons of France’ association of patriotic French Muslims. “The state is responsible for practical instruction of children in schools, not their moral education, which is the business of the family,” he told FRANCE 24. “When I take my children to school I expect them to be taught history and geography. I don’t want them to be told the state’s idea of what is morally right or wrong. That is my job as their father and head of the family.”

At the very front of the march, which was dominated by middle class ethnically French demonstrators, Najib Guarraz was among a group holding a huge banner bearing the words, in French and in Arabic:

“French Muslims opposed to same-sex marriage.” The 54-year-old father of two told FRANCE 24 he was protesting because “I am opposed to gender theory lessons in schools, I am opposed to same-sex marriage. We are in the process of destroying the fundamentals of French life.’’

Sunday’s protest comes a week after several thousand people marched through Paris in a violent “Day of Anger” against the policies of President François Hollande’s Socialist government, including last year’s law allowing gay marriage.

 

Source: http://www.france24.com/en/20140202-thousands-french-conservatives-march-family-values/

Outcry at ‘gender apartheid’ in new guidance for UK universities

December 13, 2013

 

Over 100 demonstrators attended a rally last night in protest against “legitimisation of sex apartheid” by Universities UK (UUK).

Protesters are up in arms over controversial new guidelines from the body on the laws affecting external speaker events. They claim that the new guidance will allow “ultra-orthodox religious groups” to separate men from women at events.

Demonstrators in Tavistock Square in central London carried banners with slogans such as “separate is never equal” and “no gender apartheid”. Several speakers addressed the crowd, condemning UUK’s actions, including Pragna Patel of Southall Black Sisters and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, the Independent journalist.

UUK’s guidelines state that gender segregation might not necessarily discriminatory as long as “both men and women are being treated equally, as they are both being segregated in the same way”.

It continues: “Concerns to accommodate the wishes or beliefs of those opposed to segregation should not result in a religious group being prevented from having a debate in accordance with its belief system.”

UUK insists that “assuming the side-by-side segregated seating arrangement is adopted, there does not appear to be any discrimination on gender grounds merely by imposing segregated seating”.

Maryam Namazie, an organiser of the rally and spokesperson for Fitnah, which champions women’s liberation in Islam, told the Independent: “it’s fitting that this rally is on International Human Rights Day, as well as the day of Mandela’s Memorial Service, as it goes to show that the fight against all forms of apartheid is not over.”

She added: “Any form of separation can never be equal as segregation is a restriction of equality and freedom. Women must not be separated. People have a right to religious beliefs, but this is about equality and universities should protect that equality.”

Meanwhile, In response to claims that the NUS supports the guidelines, a spokesperson said that the “NUS supports the rights of groups to self-organise how they wish but would be concerned about enforced segregation and certainly does not endorse it.

The education secretary, Michael Gove, has accused Universities UK of “pandering to extremism” with controversial guidance endorsing the segregation of men and women at campus events, urging it to be withdrawn immediately.

 

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/dec/13/michael-gove-university-gender-segregation

The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/10517111/Campus-segregation-religious-freedom-cannot-be-allowed-to-trump-equality.html

The Independent:

Equal job opportunities decline in France according to poll

October 23, 2013

 

According to a poll on the perception of equal opportunities in the workplace for the Movement of the Enterprises of France (MEDEF), the largest union of employers in France,  the climate for equal opportunities has experienced a ” sharp decline” since 2012. Religious diversity in particular is seen as a problem according to Achouri Fatima, author of “The Muslim employee in France” and Pete Stone, founder of “Just different”, a firm that assists companies with their diversity policies.

The poll was commissioned by the MEDEF to respond to the question of equal opportunities in the workplace . The results reveal a real “tension within French society and differences between individuals.” The categories in which employees consider companies to be in the duty to primarily fight for more equality in regards to pay are, according to the survey, age (43%), gender (37%),disability(32%), religious belief (9%), provincial accentuation (7%) and political opinion (5%). The disparity between attention given to discrimination on the base of religion and race leaves a sober picture of the state of consciousness about racial and religious discrimination on the workplace in France.

 

Zaman France: http://www.zamanfrance.fr/article/legalite-chances-perd-terrain-en-france-5724.html?utm_source=newsletter-karisik-liste&utm_campaign=dd4799693f-Zamanfrance%2024_10_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_2d6e3a9a0e-dd4799693f-315948881

Avicenna Scholarship for Muslim students

Talented Muslims students are given the opportunity to finance their studies through the Avicenna-Studienwerk, which was established in March 2012. Two students called Matthias Meyer (University of Konstanz) and Beschir Hussain (WHU and Columbia University) had the initial idea to create a foundation for Muslim students. The association was founded in March 2012 by researchers and students in Osnabrück. The director of the Institute for Islamic Theology Bülent Ucar spoke about a historical step towards recognition and equality of Muslims in Germany.

Selected undergraduate students receive 670 Euros per month and doctoral students receive 1050 Euros per month. The Mercator foundation is supporting the Avicenna-Studienwerk with 1 Mio. Euros for the duration of five years. The Ministry for Education and Science will support the Avicenna-Studienwerk with another 7 Mio. Euros.

The average rate of Muslims in Germany is about 4.6% to 5.2%. However the Muslim representation rate is just below 3% at German Universities.  The aim of the Avicenna-Studienwerk is to create equal opportunities for talented Muslims to participate and engage in German society.